The Fresh Loaf

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JoeVa's picture

Wednesday my sister bought a rye loaf at the town market. I remember when I spoke with the guy and asked him more about this bread: this is a true rye they buy from Austria, the frozen dough is baked it in their oven.

What!?!? Frozen and from Austria! Why don't you make it here, it's bread! No comment.
Yes, I know it is not bread if you think at wheat based bread, rye is a different baking world. Here in Italy, with the exception of few small communities in the very north regions, is almost impossible to find a bakery that bake true rye bread. But this is obvious if you think 90% bakers do not have a sourdough culture! And most of the few bakers that have a sourdough got it from a friend, they never started a culture from scratch.

Going back to the market rye, that time I have to admit it was good: I think >=70% high extraction rye, sourdough and some molasse enrichment(?).

Last time it was ...uhmm, so and so. When I tasted a slice I said my sister - this is not rye, do you remember my last rye? She said something (she don't like to speak about bread but she like to eat rye bread), so yesterday I baked it again (and baked also my usual Pain Au Levain, I remember DiMuzio lesson "master one bread"). Now, I can say her - this is rye.

The formula is from J.Hamelman "80% Sourdough Rye with Rye-Flour Soaker", for me just "Pane di Segale". This is my favorite true (>70%) rye bread and the rye flour soaker is a great addition.


And this morning, after a rainy week, we finally see a ray of sun (or a rye of sun?).


Overall formula

Whole Rye Flour 80%
High Gluten Flour 20%
Water 78%
Yeast 0.5% (1.5% original)
Salt 1.8%


Preferment: 35% of the total flour (whole rye flour) is prefermented at 83% hydration. Remember to subtract the flour and water from the final dough ingredients. I usually build the sourdough with a 5:83:100 ratio and ferment about 14:00 at 21°C.

Whole Rye Flour 100%
Water 83%
Sourdough 5%


Soaker: 20% of the total flour (whole rye flour) is soaked with hot (boiling) water. Pour the water oven the flour, cover and let it at room temperature for 14:00. I keep the soaker in a warm spot for the first 02:00. Remember to subtract the flour and water from the final dough ingredients.

Whole Rye Flour 100%
Water 100%


Dough consistency: o_O ... it's rye! 


  • Mix all ingredients (desired dough temperature 28°C)
  • Bulk fermentation 00:30
  • Shape
  • Proof 00:50
  • Bake on stone with steam for the first 00:05-00:10 at 240°C, then another 00:45 at 220°C.

The dark dense crumb:                   
Next time I will try with some molasse or brown cane sugar. EDIT: next time I will try a long baking.
La masa's picture
La masa

I thought these ciabattas would make a nice first entry for my brand new blog .

  • 200 gr of  a 100% hydration whole rye poolish (sourdough, of course)

  • 500 gr bread flour (with a pretty high gluten content)

  • 380 gr water

  • 9 gr salt

3 hour bulk fermentation, retarded overnight in the fridge, 1 hour out of the fridge, shape (kind of) and 2 hour proof.

25 minutes in a very hot oven, 10 more with the oven turned off.




It's a great bread for the kind of sandwiches we like in Spain. I'm sure you have seen that chorizo in the background :-)

AnnieT's picture

I just found an interesting article on The Heavy Table site - Solveig Tofte, the head baker at Turtle Bread Company in Minneapolis answering questions about her career. Might be helpful to anyone wanting to get into the baking business. Check it out, A.

Shiao-Ping's picture

Since my last post of Chocolate & Praline Almond Sourdough, I have done two posts at Sourdough Companion:

A Taste of Italy - Chilies, Sundried Tomatoes & Butternut Pumpkin Sourdough Baguette, and

Light Rye, Light Wholemeal Rustic Pain au Levain.

With this post, I am doing a Bread Salad using Five-Grain Levain.    


My local fruit and vegetable store recently has a few new varieties of pumpkins. I picked up an attractive looking pumpkin (pictured below) when I was there about a week ago and I asked Con the fruiterer where it came from.  He looked at me as if to say, why, Shiao-Ping, it's Australian-grown!  He tells me the name of it, but how am I going to remember all those foreign names?  I bought one, not knowing what to do with it.  As the week progressed, I felt like making some sort of Bread Salad with it!  What sort of sourdough bread would I make to go with roasted pumpkin?!

Pumpkin - pumpkin seeds - grains & seeds bread!!  Haha!

Here it is, Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain from his Bread, page 174.  My second try (the first try was in Polly, our dog's tummy): 




Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain is an exceptionally moist bread. Depending on how big you make it, a good long bake is normally a good idea, or the moisture retained in the seeds will make the bread dense in the bottom.  I didn't understand it whenever I read bakers commenting on how moist this bread was.   When I studied Hamelman's recipe all that I could ascertain from his formula was that the soakers take the big chunk of the overall hydration (which may initially appear high at 98%) but the hydration for the final dough flour was only 58%!  Now I know the reason why this bread is moist - it is because the moisture retained in the soakers is not easily baked off, as does the flour.  Have you ever noticed that the weights of your dough before bake and after bake are very different? At least a good 12 - 15% difference. That's what I meant, whereas the pre-soaked seeds and grains seem to be able to retain the moisture in the oven better.

Notwithstanding the above, I made the following changes to my bread: 

  • I increased the overall hydration by 5% to 103% (my final dough flour got 64% hydration instead of 58% as in Hamelman's formula).

  • My starter was 75% hydration whereas Hamelman's formula uses a very liquid starter of 125% hydration.  One purpose of the latter, I gather, is to provide some acetic balance to the sourdough as grains and seeds breads tend to be more sour (ie. acidic acid rahter than acetic acid).  

  • I mixed my final dough without the soaker.  I left it until after the final dough had a chance to autolyse before I combined the soaker with the dough.  I did all my mixing and stretch-n-folds by hand.  And,

  • I retarded my dough overnight and I didn't have to put commercial yeast in the dough.






This moist bread is perfect for a bread salad because so often the bread dries out once it's out in the open air (unless you smear it with butter or oil, which I don't want to do) but this one stays fresh for a lot longer.  It is a pleasing find for me.  


I toasted these slices, broke them into pieces with my hands, then

tossed the pieces in a balsamic/dark brown sugar/olive oil dressing. 




I made the bread salad for lunch yesterday and had to keep part of it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours for my daughter.  She said it was still very fresh and crispy when she ate it, which shows how moist the bread was. 




With this post, I would like to bid everyone a Happy Holiday Season!  We are going away on our annual beach holiday in the South Coast of Queensland tomorrow.  Much to my delight, there is no internet connection in the place we are staying.  I was looking forward to some beach sourdough baking, but then again blogging can be an all-consuming exercise, and a break can be a welcome recharge.


Best to all,


SumisuYoshi's picture

Walnut Pear Sourdough

Last week a friend brought us a box of Korean Pears (delicious, by the way) and seeing and tasting them, I thought they might make for a really yummy bread. I've never been a big fan of pears, don't like the texture, but I hadn't had asian pears before. The crisper texture, and not quite as sweet flavor was so much better than the pears I'd had previously. The crisper texture also seemed to lend itself better to inclusion in bread, not as likely to get lost. Then it came time for something else to add to the bread, and walnuts seemed like the natural choice. In the future I think I'll consider adding some chunks of blue cheese into the mix as well, but I didn't think some of the intended consumers of the bread would be happy with that.

I also decided to experiment with stenciling a bit with this bread, which was partially foiled by the flour from the couche, but by the time I was baking the third of the three loaves I'd manged to get it working a bit better. These loaves were also a testing ground for what differences using a cloche made. I played around with the slashing on them a bit too, somewhat successfully. The loaves that were baked in the cloche definitely had slashes that opened a bit wider, and somewhat crisper crust. The loaf volume appeared to be very similar, that is likely because they were verging on overproofed from being a little too warm when they went into the fridge overnight as shaped loaves.

I was very happy with how they turned out overall, though. The crust has a nice bite to it, while the crumb is creamy and very moist. The flavor has a lot of depth as well, just the slightest bit sour with some nuttiness and graininess from the rye and white whole wheat flours, yet exploding with bursts of fruity sweetness from the pears and nutty richness from the walnuts.

Walnut Pear Sourdough Recipe

Makes: 1 large loaf, 2 medium, or 3 small loaves (I made 3, just over a pound each)

Time: 2 to 3 days, 2 if you shape and bake the same day, 3 if you retard. First day: Make starter. Second day: Mix final dough, ferment final dough, divide and shape. Third day: Bake


  Ounces Grams Percent
Bread Flour 8 oz 230 gm 100
Water 5.25 oz 150 gm 67%
66% Levain 3 oz 85 gm 38%
Final Dough      
Starter 16.25 oz 465 gm 88%
Bread Flour 15.5 oz 440 gm 84%
Dark Rye Flour 1.5 oz 43 gm 8%
Whole Wheat Flour 1.5 oz 43 gm 8%
Water 9 oz 255 gm 49%
Pear Puree 4.35 oz 125 gm 24%
.25-.5″ Crisp Diced Pears 7 oz 200 gm 38%
Chopped Walnuts 7 oz 200 gm 48%
Vegetable Oil 1 oz 28 gm 5%
Salt .25 oz 7 gm 1.4%
Final Weight      
  63.35 oz 1806 gm 342%


  1. Cream your starter with the water (adjusting the flour and water to accommodate the hydration of your starter) and then mix with the flour, it should just come together into a loose ball. Let the dough sit 5 minutes, covered, and then knead or mix it briefly to make sure all the flour is well incorporated. Leave the starter out to ferment overnight, or until doubled if making it earlier in the day.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the salt, bread flour, whole wheat, and rye flours. In another container, mix the starter with the water, pear puree, and oil until it starts to break apart and mix into the liquids. Pour the starter mixture into the bowl with the flours and mix until it just forms a ball. Let the dough sit, covered, for 5 to 20 minutes to allow it to come together.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl to a kneading surface and knead briefly, just enough that everything is evenly incorporated. Have about 2-4 oz of flour close by, and flatten the dough out to provide as large a surface as possible. Leaving a border around the edge of the dough, spread an even layer of diced pears and walnuts across the top of the dough. Fold the dough over itself, trying to seal the pear and walnut pieces inside, give the dough another fold, and then flatten it out again and repeat with more pear and walnut pieces. The dough will start getting very wet as you incorporate the pear pieces, this is where the extra flour comes in. The dough will probably be so wet from the pears that it will become harder to get it to stick to itself, so just keep spreading a bit of flour out over the kneading surface. Be careful not to add too much flour though, you want the dough to still be tacky.
  4. Once you have incorporated all of the pear and walnut (if you are having trouble incorporating everything, you can leave out 1-2 oz of the walnuts, it may seem like a lot in the dough but by the time it has gone through two rises it will be well distributed!) form the dough into a ball and put it in a large oiled container to rise, and cover it.
  5. After the dough has been rising for 1 hour, give it a stretch and fold. Turn it back out onto your kneading surface (making sure what was the top side in the bowl is face down) and gently stretch the dough out to approximately double length left to right, then give it a letter fold (bring each end in to the center). Repeat the stretch and following fold in the opposite direction (the closest edge and furthest edge). Place the dough back into the bowl, making sure the side that was face down on the counter is facing up again in the bowl. After another hour of rising, repeat this process again. Repeat this once more time after another hour of rising.
  6. Allow the dough to double, for me about 3.5 hours at ~70°F, remove from the bowl, and gently degas.
  7. Divide and shape the dough however you desire, I divided it into 3 pieces of just over 1 pound each, and shaped all of them into boules. Round each piece into a ball, and create surface tension by spinning the dough between your hands while applying slight downward pressure. Once each loaf is shaped, place in a banneton, a floured cloth in a bowl, or on a baking sheet. Cover the loaves well, or place inside a food safe bag and leave to rise overnight in the fridge, or on the counter depending on your timing.
  8. In my case, the loaves in the refrigerator were already close to fully proofed, so I only gave them 5-10 minutes to warm up before going in the oven, if yours are not fully proofed allow them to warm up and proof, probably at least 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 500°F with baking stone (and cloche, if you have one) in place. Just before you place the loaf in the oven, score it in whatever pattern you like. A hash mark (#) or a semi circle on each edge works well. If using a cloche, load the loaf into the fully preheated oven and lower the temperature to 425°F. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the cloche lid, rotate the loaf 180° and continue baking 15-25 minutes until the loaf is a bit past golden brown, and sounds hollow on the bottom. If you aren't using a cloche, lower to 425°F and steam the oven using a plant sprayer or by pouring water into a preheated pan when loading the loaf. Again, bake for 15 minutes then rotate the loaf and continue baking 15-25 minutes until a bit past golden brown. Remove the baked loaf to a cooling rack and let cool at least 1 hour before slicing.

Notes: Asian pears are intended in this recipe, although crisp European type pears would probably work well too. Yes, I realize the character on the top of the loaf is missing the top part of the upper left radical, I accidentally brushed it off when moving the loaf. If you want to make this bread with commercial yeast, in the starter dough replace the levain with an extra 1.8(51gm) ounces of flour, 1.2(34gm) ounces of water and 1/2tsp (.055 ounce, 1.5gm) yeast.

I'm happy this recipe turned out so well for me, it really hit what I was envisioning when I came up with it. Hopefully it will work as well for anyone else who decides to try it.

Walnut Pear Sourdough Walnut Pear Sourdough

smasty's picture

Ever since MerryBaker posted this recipe (from Baking with Julia) in Helend's blog, I've been waiting to try it.  Here it is!  It is really lovely.  I added 1 packet of stevia to up the sweetness w/o additional sugar (I did use the 1/3 c specified).  I made 3 loaves, as directed.  The recipe called for "1 can" of raisins, I used about 3/4 cup.  The loaves are really small.  Next time I'll only make 2 loaves from the batch so each is a little bigger.  It's an incredible holiday it!!

gothicgirl's picture

Posted on on 11/25/2009 here

Ready for something a tad more advanced?  It takes time to make, but it is SO worth it.

Butter Croissants

I fell in love with croissant making a few semesters ago in my Laminated Dough class.  Bread making is among my favorite things to do in the kitchen, but making laminated doughs (doughs with butter sandwiched between the layers) tops that.  It takes time to make laminated dough and the process has taught me a lot about being patient in the kitchen.  Some things can't be rushed.

Butter Croissants

Making croissants at home is not a hard thing to do.  Yes, it will seem intimidating the first time when you see all the steps all at once, but  it is really just three stages, which makes the whole process less intimidating for me.

Stage 1 - Mixing the dough and making the butter block

Stage 2 - Marrying the butter with the dough and doing your three turns (folding the dough into thirds, like a letter, and turning 90 degrees)

Stage 3 - Make-up and baking

Butter Croissants

A few things to note:

I proof these croissants in the refrigerator overnight then allow them to set, at room temperature, for an hour before baking. The long, cold proof gives the dough more flavor and allows the butter to chill completely before the final proof at room temperature.

The oven gets a spritz of water from a spray bottle before the croissants go in, and another when I put them in the oven.  The steam helps the croissants get nice and big.  You want that.

Give yourself two or three days to make these.  If I do not have a full day to make the dough and do the turns, about 6 hours for stage one and two,  I make the dough and make the butter block the first day, do the turns and make up the croissants the second and bake the third.

Cook the croissants until they are well past golden brown. The edges should be quite dark and the tops a robust brown color.  This does two things, it gives the croissants more flavor and it ensures they are done all the way through.

Once made up into croissants you can freeze the dough and store it for as long as two months.  Just put the frozen croissants in the refrigerator overnight to defrost and let stand for an hour and a half before baking.

This dough can also be used for some pretty awesome danish!

Butter Croissants

Roll your sleeves up, get out your butter and remember, no fear!  You CAN do this!!

Butter Croissants   Yield 5 pounds of dough (about 48 croissants)
Adapted from Professional Baking, 4th Edition by Wayne Glisslen

For the pre-ferment:
7 ounces water, warmed to 110F
1/2 ounce dry active yeast
5 ounces bread flour

For the dough:
2.5 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces whole milk
1 1/2 ounces water
2 pounds bread flour

For the butter block:
1 pound 4 ounces butter (I use salted for croissants, but unsalted is also good)

Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon cream
2 teaspoons water


Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Begin by preparing the pre-ferment.  In the bowl of a mixer, or in a large bowl, mix the water, yeast, and bread flour.  Mix until it forms a very wet dough.  Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

While the pre-ferment sits prepare the butter block.

Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Between two sheets of parchment paper arrange 5 sticks of cold butter into a rough square.  Using a rolling pin press and pound the butter until it forms a rectangle about 1/4″ thick.  Place this in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Once the pre-ferment is rested add the ingredients for the dough and mix on low speed for three minutes.  Increase the speed to medium for two minutes.  You do not want to form gluten, you are just trying to form a rough ball of dough.  Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until it forms a relatively smooth ball.

Butter Croissants Butter CroissantsButter Croissants

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover until it is double in bulk, about 50 minutes.  Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and, using the palm of your hand, press out the air bubbles.  Form another ball and return to the bowl.  Refrigerate for an hour.

Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Once the dough has rested for an hour remove it and the butter block from the refrigerator.  Turn the dough out on a a lightly floured surface and press out the air.  Using a rolling pin form a large rectangle roughly  12″ x 24″.

Butter Croissants

Take the butter block still wrapped in parchment and see if it covers 2/3 of the rolled out dough.  If it is too small roll it out until it fits, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edges.  You can use your fingers to spread the butter if needed, just make sure that the butter does not develop any holes.

Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Fold the dough with out butter over the center of the dough.  Fold the buttered side in.   At this point check to see of the butter is getting soft.  You want the butter cool and firm, but if it is starting to melt let the dough chill, covered, for twenty minutes before you make the first turn. ( If you work quickly you can incorporate the butter and do your first turn before you have to chill.  Your first time you may not be able to.  That is completely ok.)

Butter CroissantsButter Croissants Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Turn the dough 90 degrees, or with the long seam facing horizontal to you.  Dust the board and the dough well with flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle that is about 12″ by 20″.  Dust all the flour from the dough and fold one third of the dough in.  Dust the top of the dough again to remove any flour and then fold the other third over the top.  Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Repeat this process two more times.

Once you have completed three turns, and the dough has rested for an hour, you are ready to roll out and make up your croissants.

Divide the dough in half.  Wrap the half you are not using and return to the refrigerator.

Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

On a well floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/8″ thick.  You may need to let the dough rest during this process if it starts to spring back.  If so, cover with plastic and return to the refrigerator for ten minutes.  Once rolled out cut the dough in half lengthwise with a pizza cutter.  Now, holding your cutter at an angle cut triangles from the strips of dough that are about 4″ wide at the base.  Cut one strip at a time.

Butter Croissants Butter Croissants Butter Croissants

Working with a few triangles at a time, chilling the rest, stretch the dough gently at the base until it is about 5″ to 6″ wide, then stretch the dough lengthwise so it forms a long triangle.  Working from the base, roll the dough onto itself, stopping to stretch the unrolled dough half way through.  Place the dough with the point on the bottom and tuck the edges in to form a crescent shape.  Place on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Cover with plastic and chill for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best.

Heat the oven to 400 F, prepare the egg wash, and fill a spray bottle with water.  Set the dough out to proof for an hour at room temperature while the oven heats.

When you are ready to bake spritz the inside of the oven with water.  Close the door and wait thirty seconds.  Brush the croissants with egg wash, then put the pan in the oven and spritz again and quickly close the door.

Butter Croissants

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes for medium sized croissants, or until the tops are very brown and they sound hollow when tapped on the side.  Rest on the pan for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Butter Croissants

Serve warm.

Butter Croissants


Shiao-Ping's picture

It was my son's birthday last week.  We threw him a surprise party (the ribbons in the pictures below were from his party).  When I made my daughter's 17th birthday cake, I had a feeling that the next time when a birthday comes around, I would not want to make another sponge cake.  I asked my son after his party what I could make him.  In his true color, he said Chocolate Sourdough!  Out of all my baking, this was the one that he commented "epic."  Don't you just love the boy's choice of words?  When you get a supportive family member like that, you just want to bake more.  Anyway, with this levain bread, I made two variations from my last try:

  1. I didn't use cocoa powder, so the crumb color was not the usual cocoa color.  On hindsight, it would have been better to use it; the chocolate sourdough doesn't look as decadent without it.  (If you do put cocoa powder in your chocolate sourdough, give it the same hydration as you would your flour.)  And,

  2. I added Australia-made praline almonds for crunchiness texture.






My formula

  • 330 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 825 g bread flour (replace up to 8% of flour with cocoa powder if you wish)

  • 240 g chocolate chips (24% total flour, which is quite a high ratio)

  • 200 g praline almonds (20% total flour)

  • 570 g water

  • 30 g honey

  • 20 g salt

Total dough weight 2.2 kg; overall dough hydration 73%


                                                  dough proving on a thick face towel to absorb moisture


You will need to line your dough with baking paper when the shaped dough is loaded onto the baking stone or the chocolate will stain the stone.  Expensive chocolate or good quality chocolate chips are not necessary as they melt too easily; cheap cooking chocolate from supermarket works better.  If you are interested in my procedure, please see here.










                                                         My son reluctantly gave one away as present.


dmsnyder's picture

Jewish Sour Rye, eh?

Hmmmm ....

Say, this isn't bad!

You did say there's more, didn't you?

Who asked why I bake?


doublelift08's picture

First Blog entry!!!


Starting of with PR's Multigrain Extraordinaire from BBA.


A few Modifications in this batch from the book.


I've made it before and had ok results when following verbatim but this time i wanted to have some fun with grains, technique etc

The point of this recipe in the BBA seems to be to illustrate the technique of using a soaker. Great for heartier grains it seems but i also really dig making the dough with a poolish so I've done that to combining the soaker idea with a preferment. In addition i find the amt of water called for in the oaker rarely covers the grain so i usually double it. I don't decrease the liquid in the final dough tho cuz i don't mind the higher hydration. I've also doubled the recipe in the book cuz i wanted 2 loaves... more on that later.

here's what i did (i'm a metric guy. cup & tsp peeps... you're on your own lol)


48g amaranth

6g Stone ground grits

42g Rolled Oats

7g Wheat Bran

7g Oat Bran

228g Water

Soak overnite

Poolish: (14 hours or so)

340g Water

340g Bread Flour (KA)

.85g Instant Yeast


Final Dough:



154g KA Whole Wheat Flour

276g KA Bread Flour

22g Salt

15g Yeast

228 Buttermilk

Knead dough together.


Weigh dough and split in half. Into 1/2 of dough knead:

42g Brown sugar

28g Honey

      I did this because I wanted to try this bread as a lean dough and so took this as an opportunity to try em side by side.

Bulk rise the 2 doughs 90 min

shape into batards

Proof 90  min


Bake 40 min with steam in first 5 min at 375 (convection oven)






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